A Day Made for You
Gospel Reflection for The 16th day of January in the year of Our Lord, 2024
23 And it came to pass again, as the Lord walked through the corn fields on the sabbath, that his disciples began to go forward, and to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said to him: Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said to them: Have you never read what David did when he had need, and was hungry himself, and they that were with him?
26 How he went into the house of God, under Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the loaves of proposition, which was not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave to them who were with him? 27 And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath also.
From the Time of Moses until the coming of our Lord, the Sabbath was observed on Saturday. This was the last day of the week. Religious Jews strictly observed the Sabbath. This was intended to be a time of rest and worship. After the sin of our first parents, man was condemned to labor through the sweat of his brow. God, in His mercy gave his Chosen People a day of rest. After the rebellion of the Hebrew people in the desert and in the succeeding generations, the Sabbath itself had become burdensome. Jews were prohibited from starting a fire for cooking or warmth on Saturdays, ripe fruit and vegetables could not be picked, even the number of steps a person could take in a day was limited.
Here, our Lord points out the absurdity of these overly legalistic regulations. Jesus did not come to shackle us, but to set us free. He reminds us that the Sabbath was made for man. God has need of nothing. He says that if we love him, we will keep His commandments, but His Law is is as simple as to love God and neighbor with all your heart. To accomplish this, He gave us a new Church to help us along the way and a new Sabbath.
Jesus lay in the grave on the Jewish Sabbath, He visited hell and preached to the damned, but He also freed the faithful who lived before His incarnation from limbo or the “Bosom of Abraham” – He gave them rest. He rose on Sunday, and from the earliest Church to this day, Christians observe the new Sabbath of the Lord, Sunday. On Sunday, He made us new. The first day of the week is the day of the new creation, the new Church, the new man. We are to go to Mass on Sunday, worship and spend time with family and friends. All the Church asks of us beyond this is to avoid unnecessary work. We can cook. We can go out for a walk or a hike. We can go out to eat. Those who work in restaurants can serve us, because they are doing a work of service in allowing others to rest and enjoy Sunday. We can play a game or enjoy music.
Although we are free to enjoy the Christian Sabbath, we should remember the words of Saint Paul, that all that is permissible to us in the freedom of Christ is not profitable. We should never take Sundays for granted. We should not abuse our freedoms, but we should truly use the Sabbath as a time to worship God, to rest from our labors and to appreciate His gifts. Sunday is a day for gratitude. It is a time for families to be together, for the generations to spend time with each other and for the kids to play. It is a time for young couples to have quiet conversations and intimacy. It is a time for friends to eat together and enjoy each other’s company. It is a time for those of us who are alone to take some time in nature and find the comfort that God gives us through the beauty of His creation. Sundays and holidays are often the most lonely of days for those who are isolated. Such days are a very good time to visit such people and bring the joy of Christ into their lives. We are Sunday people!
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, A Daily Catholic Devotional Reflections on the Daily Mass Readings January-June, 2024. It is Available in paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CPD1DC7Q
Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is also Available in paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C47Q1JNK
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic